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Petanque Exercises and Practice Methods.


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Petanque Talk!

A Simple Petanque Exercise

I noticed that a friend of mine was having a hard time getting her boules to a long cochonette. She was reeeeally having to work to get her boule down there. And so much energy was put into just getting the boule down there that she wasn't able to be even remotely accurate. Also, lobbing was a wild experience.

She was putting so much energy into those long throws that I feared she would damage her shoulder and back muscles with the effort.

So I thought about it - after all I had been a high school track coach specializing in throws! Like power throwers, using her legs to help with the lobs would make a difference, and probably that would help some on the long throws - but for accuracy a stable base is important. Discus throwers don't have to be accurate like a petanque pointer does!

What I came up with was the easiest possible concept - not massive weights, those might damage muscles and tendons, and might cause undesirable muscle mass and tightness - but simply using the boules that one already has, but double up on them! Put two boules in your throwing hand, and the other boule in your other hand. Swing the boules as you would when throwing except more slowly. Work on a very smooth and straight action. As you do the repetitions, go a bit higher than you would for a normal pointer throw - this will help with your lobs! Do as many reps as you wish - any will do you some good! You are not going for muscle mass, you just need enough more muscle to allow yourself not to worry about getting the boule the distance that you want it to go accurately!

This simple exercise will be good for pointers wanting to gain control at distance, and gaining the lob throw option. It will also be good for shooters that don't want to have to worry about distance and be confident that their strength is sufficient to concentrate on accuracy at any distance.

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Gaining Shooter Stamina

I have been carefully watching shooters at various terrains. Some are more successful than others. Despite the technique of many shooters, it is my opinion that shooting is not a power throw, it is just as much a finesse throw as any delicate pointing throw. From what I have seen a lot of shooters put way too much energy into their shooting throws. The result is very few carreaus and many boules flying randomly - some of them the boules of their own teammates. In most cases, you just need to move the opponent's boule a few inches to gain the point. The energy that it takes to deliver the boule to the target is already sufficient to do that. And that energy when transferred to the opposing boule will move it more than enough to do the job. Hopefully, if there is not surplus energy, your boule will take its place as its energy dissipates into the other boule - carreau!

Throwing less vigorously will preserve the shoulder and reduce fatigue over the period of a tournament. Shooters that find their shooting throws becoming less accurate in the later rounds might try throwing more smoothly and less forcefully.

Another advantage to shooting with more finesse, is that you may find yourself better able to use the shooting throw to nudge your own teams boules into better placement, or shifting the cochonette to a better position.

So, to shot better and longer, use less force and more finesse!


Using Weights

If you do want to use weights, start with a 2 pound dumbbell. That is just slightly more than a boule weighs but will allow you to do more repetitions and that will help build stamina and strength gently. If you find that the 2 pounds is becoming simply too easy, go to 3 pounds for your repetitions. Under no circumstances go to any heavier weight! You do not want to build massive muscles. Those will just get in the way of a smooth swing.

The exercise should be as close to an actual throw motion as possible. So start by swinging your arm forward, cock your wrist as you would to produce good backswing, and swing your arm back as far as is comfortable. Then smoothly swing your arm forward uncocking your wrist as you would when releasing the boule at the appropriate time. Do this exercise gently - do not whip the arm and shoulder or you might injure yourself. The beauty of this exercise is that you are exercising and strengthening most of the muscles that you will be using in your throws, including those in your back, shoulder, arm, wrist and hand.

Start by doing 11 repetitions at a time a couple of times a day. Once that seems really easy go to three times a day. As you strengthen increase to 21 reps, then 31 and so on up to 51 reps three times a day. I figure that 51 reps is about equivalent to the effort of playing a game of petanque. So eventually you will be able to have the stamina to play three games of petanque a day! Or put another way, you will be strengthening yourself as though you were playing three games a day every day of the week, rain or shine!

Once you have the strength to deliver the boule anywhere on the terrain, you can concentrate on how well you deliver it!